HS2 Concerns Over Sinkholes Appearance

25 May 2023

Residents and workers near an HS2 Chiltern tunnel express concerns over the high-speed railway project. On Saturday the 13th May, a large sinkhole opened in a field above a section of a Chiltern tunnel for HS2, in Litte Missenden. The unreinforced ground above collapsed, creating a huge opening. “Investigations are ongoing”, but the incident is likely to be a result of the “pre-existing ground conditions” before tunneling underneath.

The mayor of Amersham, Cllr. Mark Roberts, states that the people were “very concerned”. HS2 Ltd claims there was “no risk to the public”. Campaigners opposing the railway project declare that the hole was measured and is said to have a 6m (20ft) diameter and is 5m (15ft) deep in the ground. Residents of the local area have stated that the opening may have been caused by the boring machines underneath the ground, which are being used to create the tunnels and route for HS2. These machines have been excavating under the Chiltern Hills for the past 21 months. Fears spread across the railway’s route as this incident may occur several times in the future. The Buckinghamshire Council leader – who opposes HS2 – has stated that there has been warnings for several years about possible harm to the land surrounding HS2, as a result of the extreme construction. “We’ve been warning for the best part of twelve years. This council has opposed HS2 consistently. The risk of tunnelling and what might happen in terms of ground collapse has been very present – we warned this could happen and lo and behold it has”.

After huge concern over safety Mr Sam Privett, teacher of PSHCE at The Beacon,  commented “Lucky it wasn’t under a house” and “If this is what it causes, it is time to stop digging”. Living near the mouth of the tunnel Ms Olivia Kearns commented “I’m worried for the noise impact when in full flight” and “HS2 hasn’t been made yet and cracks are already appearing”. She also stated “We’re in a money crisis as it is and spending billions on HS2 with a possible war on the horizon”. After driving past a few HS2 work sights every day to arrive at work Miss Georgina Thomas commented “we don’t know the huge damage that HS2 will cause”.

Local residents and people working near the area express their worries about HS2. Since the project was launched, the scheme has received a huge amount of criticism from climate activists and protesters. Residents received an email alerting them on the situation, which said: It’s quite sizeable – around six meters in diameter and five meters deep. These are approximate measurements.” The site has been fenced off and shut off from the public. Construction workers have been watching the sinkhole after the occurrence. The field is above a chalk aquifer, which fills the nearby Shardeloes Lake and the rivers nearby. Great Missenden parish councillor, Catherine Bunting, is concerned about the effect of tunnelling above the aquifer. “We’re told HS2 know what they’re doing with their drilling, that our aquifer is safe and our water is safe,” she stated. “Chalk is a very fragile material. What happens if there are further cracks and this lake is at risk? When are we going to ask HS2 to stop what they’re doing? Enough is enough”.

HS2 is in discussion with the landowner about next steps, and the Environment Agency has been informed. The Chiltern tunnel is the largest of the tunnels on HS2. The trainline is expected to be completed between 2029 and 2033. The long-lasting project was expected to cost between £72 billion and £98 billion in 2019. However, since then prices have risen due to inflation. 

By Austin L and Noah B

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